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China posts round-the-clock inspectors in dairy factories

BEIJING, 6 Oct 2008: China has deployed five thousand inspectors for round-the-clock inspections of dairy factories across the country, in efforts to clean up a scandal over melamine-tainted milk which has triggered a rejection of its dairy-linked products at home and abroad.

Wang Yong, the new central quality watchdog chief, vowed to make “substantial change” in the production of dairy products and to sack incapable quality inspectors in the wake of the scandal which has killed at least four babies and affected another 53,000 with kidney ailments.

“Food safety concerns not only the health of the public, but also the life of business,” Wang was quoted as saying on 5 Oct by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Wang took over the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in late September from his predecessor who resigned over the discovery of industrial melamine not only in baby milk powder but liquid milk produced even by dairy giants at home.

He said more centres would be verified to carry out tests for melamine, an industrial chemical banned in food production, and in the case here, added to watered down milk to make the protein content appear higher.

Presently, China only has 12 food quality institutions capable of doing melamine tests but all are in Beijing, Xinhua said.

In the latest round of test results, the AQSIQ said on 5 Oct that 128 batches of baby formula from 38 brands and 212 batches of milk powder from 84 brands were melamine-free, including from dairy giants, Mengniu and Yili, which had failed tests previously.

Meanwhile, six people suspected of producing and selling melamine were detained in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, a major dairy region and base for Mengniu and Yili.

The municipal government announced on 5 Oct that the arrests were linked to investigations of Yili and Mengniu, Xinhua reported.

Earlier, 22 people including milk dealers and melamine sellers were detained in northern Hebei province, where the Sanlu Group, at the centre of the scandal which broke in early September, is based.

Authorities had said that most of the babies who fell ill had drank Sanlu brand milk. — Bernama



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